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Gone are the days when video games were the favorite pastime of kids. The explosive use of smartphones has led to the emergence of a new generation, whose daily lives are all about mobile gaming. They spend hours from their daily time playing online or app games on their mobiles. According to the Statista, over 51 percent American mobile users were engaged in gaming on their devices in 2015. Moreover, the penetration of mobile gaming in the United States is projected to reach 63.7 percent by 2020.

Pathological gamers have such a strong craving for the game that they can go to any lengths to perfect those difficult levels and touch new highs in the game. Seeing the addiction potential of these games, especially when many of the present day mobile games are proving fatal for users, the World Health Organization (WHO) has listed excessive gaming as a “gaming disorder” in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

Gaming disorder, as per the ICD-11, is defined “as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Possible Signs of Gaming Addiction

Though American Medical Association (AMA) has not identified gaming addition as a diagnosable disorder in the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), experts suggest certain warning signs that could indicate an underlying problem.

Emotional symptoms

  • Thinking of the game even when not playing it
  • Feeling restless and/or irritated when unable to play
  • Preference to stay in isolation to spend more time gaming
  • Lying to family and friends about the amount of time spent on playing games

Physical symptoms

  • Migraines resulting from intense concentration or eye strain
  • Fatigue as even the time needed to rest is spent on gaming
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the repeated use of controller or computer mouse

Harmful Effects of Gaming Addiction

Experts suggest that teens addicted to games are left with less time for studying or socializing as compared to their peers. Moreover, video game addiction may also lead to mental health problems such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). However, only a small fraction of gamers are vulnerable to such adverse effects.

People diagnosed with gaming disorder (in extreme cases though) were found to display violent or aggressive behavior when their parents tried to take away their games. While experts are still not sure about the addiction potential of games in a scientific or clinical setting, neurological evidence suggests compelling similarities between the adverse effects of excessive gaming and illicit drugs on the minds of the users.

Dealing with Gaming Addiction at ADEONA Healthcare

Gaming addiction, as researchers recommend, should be treated like other behavioral addictions. At ADEONA Healthcare, we offer treatment strategies such as family therapy, individual therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), that aim at behavior modification to treat gaming addiction. As teens are sensitive and have special requirements, behavioral interventions like limiting screen time can also help them recover.

Additionally, sometimes, a gaming addiction is a result of other underlying problems like depression, bipolar disorder, or substance abuse. This is known as co-occurring disorders. Teens with co-occurring disorders often benefit from medication. As an example, a teen with depression and gaming disorder may be prescribed antidepressants, and a teen with bipolar disorder and gaming disorder may receive mood stabilizers. By treating the underlying illness, the symptoms associated with gaming disorder also become easier to treat.

If you know an adolescent or a teen showing signs of gaming addiction or any other behavioral problem, get in touch with ADEONA Healthcare by calling our 24/7 helpline (888) 997-3966. Our admission counselor can help you understand what is gaming addiction. You can even chat online with our representative to know about effective intervention programs to treat gaming addiction in your teen.

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